Digging into last week’s blitz of polls

A possible clue to why Forum had NDP, Libs closest. And other notes.
By Tom Barrett
TheTyee.ca

As more people make up their minds, the polls are tightening.
As more people make up their minds, the polls are tightening.

Some random thoughts on a flurry of election polls…

Five of the six polls that were released last week suggest the gap between the New Democratic Party and the BC Liberals has narrowed substantially. At the end of the week, B.C.’s two biggest pollsters, Angus Reid and Ipsos Reid, weighed in. Ipsos found a 10-point gap, Angus Reid found a seven-point gap.

As you can see from the chart here, Reid shows the BC Liberals up three points from the beginning of the campaign and the NDP down four points. Ipsos shows the Liberals up six points from their start-of-the-campaign poll and the NDP down three points. Even that six-point Liberal jump from Ipsos is within the poll’s combined stated margins of error — although it’s near the outside edge.

But a trend is apparent. The polls are tightening — just as pretty much everyone predicted at the beginning of the campaign.

Is the shift due to last week’s televised leaders debate? Could be. Or it could be a result of negative Liberal ads or the relentless, if fanciful, Liberal focus on debt, the deficit and the economy during the first two weeks. Or the media’s focus on the same topics and on NDP leader Adrian Dix’s Kinder Morgan switch.

Or, quite likely, a lot of potential voters are just starting to pay attention to politics for the first time in four years.

We’ll never know the real reason because there isn’t enough information available.

Forum’s four point gap: sample skewed?

Not that there’s a shortage of facts and figures flying around from the week’s polls. Take the Forum poll that suggested the gap between the NDP and the Liberals had fallen to four points.

Here’s something interesting about that poll that my colleague Andrew MacLeod pointed out: out of 1,009 respondents, 459 said they voted for the Liberals in the last provincial election. Another 290 said they voted for the NDP, 78 said they voted BC Conservative, 79 said they voted Green, 49 said they voted for other parties and 54 said they didn’t vote.

Forum is to be commended for publicizing this much detail about their poll; not all pollsters do.

But among those respondents who say they voted in 2009, 48 per cent say they voted for the Liberals, 30 per cent for the NDP, eight per cent for the Conservatives, eight per cent for the Greens and five per cent for other parties. Five per cent of the total sample say they didn’t vote.

Here are the results from the 2009 election: Liberal, 46 per cent; NDP, 42 per cent; Conservative, two per cent, Green, eight per cent; others, two per cent.

And an estimated 49 per cent of all eligible voters didn’t vote in 2009.

Questions like this rely on sometimes faulty memories. Respondents who didn’t vote may feel pressured to lie; saying you voted is the socially acceptable answer, after all. And pollsters who discover their sample doesn’t look like the population use weighting techniques to make up for the difference.

Still, on the face of it, this sample doesn’t look much like the real world of B.C. voters.

Gender gap trap?

One interesting difference between the Ipsos and Reid polls involves the gender gap. Ipsos suggests women favour the NDP by a 20-point margin, 50 per cent to the 30 per cent who would vote Liberal. But Reid suggests the gap is eight points, 43 per cent NDP to 35 per cent Liberal. That’s a pretty big difference, but it’s worth remembering that the margin of error goes up as the sample size goes down. Continue reading

POLL: Ipsos latest puts NDP lead at 10 points

By Tom Barrett
TheTyee.ca

A week full of election polls has ended with a survey from Ipsos Reid that indicates the NDP holding a 10-point lead.

Earlier this week, various pollsters gave the NDP leads ranging between 22 percentage points and four points.

The Ipsos poll, conducted online for Global BC, indicates the NDP’s lead has been cut in half since the last Ipsos poll, taken March 8-12, which put the New Democrats out ahead by 19 points.

The new Ipsos poll found 45 per cent support for the New Democrats among decided voters, down three points from the last Ipsos poll. The governing BC Liberals are at 35 per cent, up six points from the start of the campaign.

The BC Conservatives are at seven per cent, down four points, and the Green party is at 10 per cent, up one point. Other parties, including independents, were at three per cent.

The poll was released a day after three pollsters weighed in on the May 14 campaign. Forum Research suggested the New Democrats lead is four points, Insights West suggested the NDP leads by eight points and Angus Reid suggested a seven-point gap.

In the Ipsos poll, 13 per cent of respondents said they were undecided or stated no preference.

Among decided voters, few –- 15 per cent –- said they think they might change their mind by election day.

Premier Christy Clark still trails NDP leader Adrian Dix on the question of who would make the best premier, but she has jumped a significant eight points since the campaign began. Clark was named by 31 per cent as best premier, compared to 34 per cent who named Dix. Dix’s best premier rating was stable, dropping two points since the campaign began.

Read more…

Making sense of week’s wild poll shifts

One put the NDP 22 points ahead, another only four. What’s going on?
By Tom Barrett
TheTyee.ca

Things can change quickly during an election. Survey timing is key.
Things can change quickly during an election. Survey timing is key.

At the beginning of this week, a poll suggested the NDP was leading the BC Liberals by 22 points. Then another poll suggested a 10-point NDP lead. Then a third poll suggested four points. Then another suggested eight points. Then another one suggested seven.

Given that information, which of the following statements best matches your view:

I believe all these results.
I believe none of these results.
There’s too damn many polls.

On Thursday, Forum Research released a poll that suggested the New Democrats’ lead over the governing BC Liberals has fallen to four points. The Forum poll was followed later in the day by one from Insights West that suggested the NDP leads by eight points among decided voters. Then Angus Reid weighed in with a poll that suggested a seven-point NDP lead.

So what’s a voter to think?

For a start, most of these results fall within the range of the polls’ margins of error. The one outlier is the 22-point Justason poll, which was conducted April 15-23 — about a week before the other results. Things can change quickly during an election campaign; the dates a poll was taken are a key factor.

To see the Tyee’s table showing 17 polls going back to mid-January of this year, click on this Election Hook item published late last evening.

Next time you read a poll, arm yourself

Everyone has their own poll, it seems, and there often seems to be precious little agreement among them. Here are some resources that can help the average political junkie make sense out of all these numbers. Continue reading

New polls suggest BC election is suddenly a lot tighter

By Tom Barrett
TheTyee.ca

Some new polls suggest the B.C. election has suddenly become a lot tighter.

At the beginning of the week, Justason Market Intelligence released a poll indicating a 22-point lead for the NDP. At around the same time, an Abacus poll indicated a 10-point NDP lead.

Then, on Thursday, a poll from Forum Research suggested the New Democrats’ lead over the governing BC Liberals has fallen to four points.

Then a poll from Insights West suggested the NDP leads by eight points among decided voters.

A few hours later, an Angus Reid poll suggested a seven-point gap.

One more poll is expected from Ipsos this evening.

The Forum poll reports 39 per cent support for the NDP, 35 per cent for the Liberals, 12 per cent for the Green party, nine per cent for the BC Conservatives, and three per cent for others. (Those numbers don’t add up to 100, presumably because of rounding.)

The poll was sponsored by the National Post and based on a sample of 1,055 adult British Columbians. It was taken Tuesday, April 30, the day after the leaders TV debate. It was conducted by Interactive Voice Response and states a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Forum was off the mark in the Quebec and Alberta provincial elections, but they weren’t the only ones. During the 2011 Vancouver civic election, Forum released a much publicized poll that indicated Mayor Gregor Robertson held a six-point lead over NPA challenger Suzanne Anton. Robertson won by 13 points.

The Insights West poll gives the NDP 41 per cent among decided voters, the Liberals 33 per cent, the Green party 14 per cent and the Conservatives 11 per cent and others one per cent.

When the undecideds are included in the total, the Insights West numbers get much closer. The undecideds have dropped to 15 per cent from 20 per cent in the last Insights West poll, conducted in March. When the undecideds are factored in, the numbers become: NDP 33 per cent, Liberal 27 per cent, undecided 15 per cent, Greens 11 per cent, Conservative nine per cent and others one per cent. Five per cent said they will not vote.

The Insights West poll was conducted online from Monday, April 29 to Thursday, May 2 among 855 B.C. adults. The pollster states: “While statistical margins of error are arguably not applicable to online panels/online studies of this nature, we have assumed that the same margins of error apply as if it were a true unweighted random probability sample with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.” (See this story for more on this issue.)

The Angus Reid poll showed 41 per cent support for the NDP and 34 per cent for the Liberals. The Conservatives were at 10 per cent, the Greens at 12 per cent and others at three per cent.

The online poll, conducted for CTV and the Globe and Mail, was conducted Wednesday, May 1 and Thursday, May 2 among 808 B.C. adults. It claims a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Read more…

BC’s fight against climate change, explained

In 2007, Gordon Campbell decided the province would lead the world and slash emissions. What happened?
By Tom Barrett
TheTyee.ca

Editor’s note: With voting day just over two weeks away, we look back on big issues that have driven debate in our province during the last 12 years of BC Liberal governance. What did B.C.’s leaders and opposition parties say and do on these major files? What are they saying now? What are the facts? Humbly offered here, a cure for political amnesia among candidates and media alike. Today, we walk you through B.C.’s record on climate policy.

Photo by kvdl http://www.flickr.com/photos/kvdl/ in Your BC: The Tyee's Photo Pool. http://www.flickr.com/groups/thetyee/
Photo by kvdl in Your BC: The Tyee’s Photo Pool

It’s hard to believe today, but back in January 2007 a lot of people cared a lot about climate change.

It had been a weird, warm winter in much of Canada. Al Gore was showing his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Newscasts talked about endangered polar bears.

A Decima poll suggested that Canadian voters thought the environment was at least as important as the economy, which, we should remember, appeared to be steaming along merrily. Even Prime Minster Stephen Harper was trying to look green.

In B.C., premier Gordon Campbell had done some reading about climate change and decided that B.C. would be a world leader when it came to cutting planet-warming greenhouse gases. As was his wont, he threw all the resources of the government into his new enthusiasm.

Word leaked to environmentalists, who speculated that Campbell would commit the province to the kind of GHG reduction targets that California had recently adopted. They weren’t disappointed.

In February, Campbell announced that B.C. would cut its emissions by at least one-third by 2020. Alternative energy sources would be encouraged. Ninety per cent of the province’s electricity would have to come from clean, renewable sources.

Not everything fit into this new green world, however. The 2007 provincial budget talked about expanding the oil and gas industry, including offshore drilling. Environmentalists were not so happy about that. Continue reading

POLL: Abacus Data suggests closer race between NDP and Liberals

By Tom Barrett
TheTyee.ca

A poll from Abacus Data suggests a 10-point lead for the New Democrats -– by far the closest result of any B.C. political poll taken since January.

The Abacus poll was released at around the same time as a Justason Market Intelligence poll that suggested a 22-point lead for the New Democrats.

The online Abacus poll results for decided and leaning voters were: BC Liberals 33, NDP 43, BC Conservatives nine, Greens 12, others three.

The Justason poll results were: Liberals 27, NDP 49, Conservatives 12, Greens 11, others one.

There are issues concerning both polls.

The Justason poll was conducted between April 15 and 23, so some of the interviews are two weeks old; the most recent ones are a week old. Justason’s poll was based on a sample of 600 potential voters –- a considerably smaller sample than other B.C. election polls. (See table below.)

The Abacus poll, conducted for the Sun News Network, had a very large sample –- 1,042 –- and was conducted from Tuesday, April 23 to Friday, April 26. However, Abacus has no track record in polling for B.C. elections, so it is difficult to say how representative its sample may be.

Other pollsters are expected to weigh in over the coming week; their results may help create a more complete picture of public opinion during this election.

Read more…

POLL: NDP’s Adrian Dix won leaders debate, Ipsos Reid suggests

By Tom Barrett
TheTyee.ca

Respondents to an Ipsos Reid poll taken immediately after Monday’s leaders debate named New Democrat Adrian Dix the winner, with Premier Christy Clark a close second.

The poll was conducted for Global TV online among members of an Ipsos panel who were asked in advance to watch the debate.

Popular wisdom around who won and lost such debates tends to take a day or two to form. But if the Ipsos results match the consensus that emerges, they spell big trouble for Clark and the BC Liberals. With the Liberals trailing by 14 to 20 points in recent polls, Clark needed to score a breakthrough with voters.

Instead, she turned off roughly as many Ipsos respondents as she won over.

Thirty-five per cent said Dix won the debate. Clark was chosen by 30 per cent, Green party Leader Jane Sterk was chosen by 10 per cent and B.C. Conservative John Cummins was named by three per cent.

Twenty-two per cent said they were undecided.

Cummins was named by 36 per cent as the debate’s loser. Clark was named by 27 per cent as the loser — about the same as the number who said she was the winner. Dix was named the loser by 16 per cent and Sterk by 11 per cent. Ten per cent were undecided.

There was more bad news in the poll for Clark. More respondents said their impression of the premier worsened during the debate than said it improved. Thirty-four per cent said their impression worsened compared to 25 per cent who said their impression improved. Thirty-nine per cent said the debate did not affect their impression of Clark and two per cent were undecided.

Sterk got a boost in this category: 42 per cent said their impression of the Green leader improved, compared to 15 per cent who said it worsened.

Some 32 per cent said their impression of Dix improved compared to 28 per cent who said their impression worsened.

Cummins scored particularly poorly in this category with 19 per cent improved compared to 45 per cent who said their impression worsened.

The results of this online poll are based on the answers of 677 eligible voters who watched the debate. Ipsos states a credibility interval of 4.3 percentage points.

Find Tyee election reporting team member and contributing editor Tom Barrett’s previous Tyee articles here. Find him on Twitter or email him.

POLL: Latest Angus Reid sets NDP lead 14 points over Liberals

By Tom Barrett
TheTyee.ca

A new poll from Angus Reid suggests that the New Democrats hold a 14-point lead on the BC Liberals on the eve of today’s radio debate among the party leaders.

While the gap between the two parties is three points lower than the previous Reid poll, conducted April 12 and 13, all shifts in party support are within the poll’s stated margin of error.

The latest online Reid poll found 45 per cent of decided and leaning respondents support the NDP, the same figure as the previous poll.

The BC Liberals received 31 per cent, up three percentage points from the earlier poll. The BC Conservatives received 11 per cent, down one point, and the Green party received 10 per cent, down three points. A further three per cent mentioned independent candidates or other parties.

The poll was greeted with media speculation about the reasons behind the changing numbers. However, with a stated margin of error of 3.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20, all the changes in party support could be the result of random chance.

Fifty-nine per cent agreed with the statement: “It is time for a change in government in British Columbia — a different provincial party should be elected into power.”

Twenty-five per cent agreed with the statement: “It is not time for a change in government in British Columbia — the BC Liberals should be re-elected.”

The four main party leaders debated on CKNW radio today, Friday, April 26.

The poll was conducted Wednesday, April 24 and Thursday, April 25, 2013 among 812 adult British Columbians selected at random from an Angus Reid online panel. For more about polling methodology, see this story.

Read more…

POLL: British Columbians prefer spending on health and education over debt paydown

By Tom Barrett
TheTyee.ca

A new poll suggests that British Columbians are more interested in spending on health and education than paying down the province’s debt or cutting taxes.

The online Ipsos poll, for Global TV, asked the following question:

“On which one of the following three items would you like to see the provincial government place the greatest priority over the next few years?”

Forty-six per cent of respondents replied “increasing funding for services such as health and education”; 35 per cent replied “reducing the provincial debt” and 15 per cent said “lowering taxes.” A further four per cent said they didn’t know.

The poll also asked: “If elected, how well do you think each of the parties would do at balancing resource development and environmental protection”?

Thirty-nine per cent said Adrian Dix and the BC NDP would strike about the right balance between development and the environment, while 29 per cent said the party would put too much focus on the environment.

Thirty per cent said Christy Clark and the Liberals would strike the right balance, while 49 per cent said they would put too much focus on resource development.

Fifteen per cent said John Cummins and the BC Conservatives would strike the right balance, while 35 per cent said they would put too much focus on resource development; 47 per cent said they didn’t know.

Twelve per cent said Jane Sterk and the Green party would strike the right balance, while 61 per cent said the Greens would put too much focus on the environment.

The poll was conducted Monday, April 22 and April 23, among 455 adult British Columbians drawn from a panel assembled by Ipsos. The company states a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20. For more on polling methodology and controversies, see this story.

Find Tyee election reporting team member and contributing editor Tom Barrett’s previous Tyee articles here. Find him on Twitter or email him.

POLL: Ipsos’s latest sets NDP lead at 19 percentage points

By Tom Barrett
TheTyee.ca

A new election poll –- the second one released yesterday -– puts the New Democrats out front of the BC Liberal Party by 19 percentage points.

Although that gap is widely expected to narrow between now and the May 14 election, it is worth observing that only two B.C. elections in the past 40 years have been decided by more than 10 percentage points. (The BC Liberals won with a 36.1-point margin in 2001 and Social Credit won by 10.1-points in 1975.)

In today’s Ipsos Reid poll, 48 per cent of decided respondents said they would vote for the NDP if the election were held tomorrow. The Liberals received 29 per cent, the B.C. Conservatives 11 per cent, the Greens nine per cent and other parties, including independent candidates, received three per cent.

About one in five –- 19 per cent -– of all respondents to the online poll were undecided or had no preference.

The results are quite close to those of yesterday’s other campaign poll, from Angus Reid, which suggested a 17-point gap between the two leading parties. (The Ipsos figures represent decided voters while the Angus Reid numbers are for those who are decided and leaning.)

The Ipsos poll was conducted for Global TV between Thursday, April 11 and Sunday, April 14, among 800 B.C. adults drawn from an online panel. Ipsos states a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Read more…